At least someone’s happy they’re on strike! Kids wave at striking teachers while parents and retirees blast union bosses for ‘unfair’ walkouts which have plunged classrooms into chaos
- Children have been spotted waving at teachers striking today
- Is YOUR child’s school shut today? Full list of closures revealed here
Striking teachers were today given a wave of approval by children off school thanks to classrooms across the country closing due to the walkouts staged just weeks before GCSE and A-level exams.
Teachers have been blasted for ‘unfair’ strikes which are ‘penalising children’ in the latest round of industrial action.
Today’s strike by members of the National Education Union (NEU) comes as union bosses warned three more strike days planned for late June and early July will ‘likely’ go ahead.
Parents slammed teachers on social media today, while retired teacher Roberta, from Sheffield, told Radio 5 Live that teaching ‘is a vocation’ and ‘children should not suffer for any reason at all’.
In a heated exchange with NEU General-Secretary Kevin Courtney today, she thundered: ‘You can think of other things to do that will make the government sit up and think rather than by refusing to do things, rather than penalising the children that you refuse to teach.’
Children wave at teacher members of the National Education Union (NEU) during a rally in Brighton
The children who should be at school were pictured playing football in the park
Dr Mary Bousted (centre), NEU Joint General Secretary, joining teachers at a rally in Brighton
Kevin Courtney (centre left) Joint General Secretary National Education Union (NEU) with teacher members of the union at a rally in Westminster, London
Mr Courtney responded: ‘The point is, the children are being penalised everyday by the shortage of teachers.’
He pointed out the government is going to miss its target for secondary teacher recruitment this year by ‘maybe by 50 per cent’. The union boss also highlighted there are ‘classes around the country where the children aren’t being taught’.
He spoke of an A-level physics class in which students are taught for only half of the timetabled lessons. ‘The other half is self-study,’ he continued.
Roberta strongly disagreed, and said: ‘you’re letting these children out of school, and you don’t know who’s looking after them. Parents have to work too.
Is YOUR child’s school shut today? Full list of closures revealed here
‘I know that certain children from certain backgrounds will probably end up in trouble because they’ve got days off school.’
She explained she does believe in strike action, but not in this circumstance as ‘it is not fair on the children’.
Many secondary schools in England are expected to prioritise Year 11 and Year 13 students during the strikes, as dates for GCSE and A-level exams draw closer.
The Government previously offered a £1,000 one-off payment for the current school year and an average 4.3 per cent pay rise for staff next year, but this was rejected and then withdrawn.
Picket lines were mounted outside schools in England on Tuesday morning, while a protest outside the Department for Education (DfE) and a rally outside Downing Street in London are due to be held.
More than half of England’s 22,000 schools were either closed or partially closed on previous days of industrial action as teachers demand improved pay and working conditions amid the cost of living crisis.
The NEU issued guidance saying it will support arrangements during the strikes that ‘provide the minimum level of teaching staff needed’ so GCSE and A-level students can attend school for revision activities or exam practice.
School closures are expected to vary across England, some counties have provided lists of school closures, whilst others advise parents to check with individual schools.
Unions are seeking above-inflation increases, plus extra money to ensure any pay rises do not come from schools’ existing budgets.
Joint general secretary of the NEU Kevin Courtney defended the teachers strike in a heated conversation on BBC this morning
Teacher members of the National Education Union (NEU) at a rally in Brighton as they stage walkouts across England
Unions are seeking above-inflation increases, plus extra money to ensure any pay rises do not come from schools’ existing budgets
Four education unions, the NEU, the NASUWT teaching union, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), rejected the last pay offer.
Cabinet minister James Cleverly said a ‘good offer’ has been made to teachers over pay and workload reduction.
The Foreign Secretary told LBC Radio: ‘The best way of minimising disruption to students is for those teachers to be in the classrooms.
‘Many, many students have had a very, very disrupted last couple of years because of Covid and I think everything we can do to help them start their lives better through education is really, really important.’
Teacher members of the National Education Union (NEU) at a rally in Brighton
Cabinet minister James Cleverly said a ‘good offer’ has been made to teachers over pay and workload reduction
A DfE spokesperson said: ‘For unions to co-ordinate strike action with the aim of causing maximum disruption to schools is unreasonable and disproportionate, especially given the impact the pandemic has already had on students’ learning.
‘Children’s education has always been our absolute priority and they should be in classrooms where they belong.
‘We have made a fair and reasonable teacher pay offer to the unions, which recognises teachers’ hard work and commitment as well as delivering at additional £2 billion in funding for schools, which they asked for.’
Last year, classroom teachers were paid an average of £38,982 in the 2021-22 school year in England, £39,009 in Wales and £40,026 in Scotland.
The average head teacher salary in England for the same period was £74,095, and £57,117 for other senior leaders.
The majority of state school teachers in England had a 5 per cent rise last year.
But after taking inflation into account, teachers’ salaries in England fell by an average of 11 per cent between 2010 and 2022, the Institute for Fiscal Studies says.
On further strikes, joint general secretary of the NEU Kevin Courtney said: ‘At that stage that would be just the NEU. All the unions are balloting, we are reballoting, but the timescales that will lead to will be the autumn term.
‘But we want the Government to settle this before the autumn term, so we want to maintain pressure on the Government before the autumn term.’ He told PA that striking NEU members can teach GSCE and A-level classes.
Striking members of the NEU South East Region at a rally in Chichester
The NEU is considering three further days of strike action in the summer term in England
He said: ‘We have put in place a dispensation at a national level, which is negotiated at a school level, to say that the teachers that are teaching the GSCE and the A-level years… We can let them off the strike to go in and teach those classes, and reach an arrangement with the head teacher to do that.
‘You’ll find that some school teachers are on the picket line on strike in the morning and going in to teach their A-level class in the afternoon.’
He added: ‘We don’t want to disrupt education, we apologise for the disruption that is caused.’
‘You should be getting Gillian Keegan [Education Secretary] on asking her how she justifies the disruption every week.’
Ahead of the strikes last week, a Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘Any strike action is hugely damaging. We have made a fair and reasonable pay offer to teachers recognising their hard work and commitment.
‘Thanks to the further £2 billion pounds we are investing in our schools, next year, school funding will be at its highest level in history.’
The NEU is considering three further days of strike action in the summer term in England.
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